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Home-Visiting Programs Provide "Nuclear Family" for New IN Parents

PHOTO: Programs that provide encouragement and support to struggling Indiana parents could lose funding next year unless Congress acts. Photo credit: danizita/morguefile.
PHOTO: Programs that provide encouragement and support to struggling Indiana parents could lose funding next year unless Congress acts. Photo credit: danizita/morguefile.
December 18, 2014

INDIANAPOLIS — The clock is ticking on federal funding that helps struggling parents with young children. The Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program expires in March, unless Congress takes action.

Bill Stancykiewicz, president and CEO, Indiana Youth Institute, says home-visiting programs provide encouragement and support for new parents. He points out that the nuclear family just isn't as strong as it used to be, with nearly half of Indiana children born into single-parent homes.

"'Back in the day,' this was the type of assistance and information that could be provided to mom by immediate family members," he explains. "Certainly some of those family members are still involved – but in many cases, they are not. And programs like this aim to fill that gap."

There's also a payoff. A RAND Corporation report that found home visiting programs saved up to $6 for every dollar invested.

A coalition of 750 organizations, including some in Indiana, has sent a letter asking that the program continue as it has for decades.

It is the source of grant money to run the Healthy Families Indiana program and the Nurse-Family Partnership. Stancykiewicz says the services they provide are especially important considering that Indiana has one of the highest rates in the nation of low birth-weight babies and infant mortality.

"Programs such as these can help alleviate those problems, helping mom get good prenatal care and be taking good care of herself while she's pregnant, and making sure the baby gets off to a great start after birth," says Stancykiewicz.

The American Academy of Pediatrics, Prevent Child Abuse America and Salvation Army are among the national organizations that signed the letter. Funding nationally has been at about $400 million a year.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - IN